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List of media issues analyses published 2020-2021



Victorian Certificate of Education English students should look for the specially-marked outlines below, as these are suitable for 2019-2020 VCE date-specific tasks. SEE THE 2019-2020 LIST FOR SIMILARLY-MARKED AND SUITABLE ISSUE OUTLINES

Should governments and companies be legally obligated to protect people from climate change?
(Suitable for VCE Year 2020-2021 English Year 12 students)

On May 27, 2021, the Federal Court of Australia ruled that the Minister for the Environment had a duty of care to protect Australian children from mining developments that contributed to climate change.
On May 26, 2021, a court in the Netherlands found that the multinational oil company Royal Dutch Shell must reduce its CO2 emissions by 45 percent relative to 2019 levels. The ruling, which has application only in the Netherlands, attempts to impose an obligation on the company to protect the human rights of Dutch citizens from the harmful climate impacts caused by the sale of Shell products.
These developments have contributed to the debate over the role of courts in determining the policies governments and corporations should adopt to reduce climate change.





Should six Dr Seuss's books have been withdrawn from publication?
(Suitable for VCE Year 2020-2021 English Year 12 students)

On March 2, 2021, Dr Seuss Enterprises announced that six Dr. Seuss books - including 'And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street' and 'If I Ran the Zoo' - will stop being published because of racist and insensitive imagery.
Dr Seuss Enterprises stated, 'These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong. Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises' catalogue represents and supports all communities and families.' The other books affected are 'McElligot's Pool', 'On Beyond Zebra!', 'Scrambled Eggs Super!', and 'The Cat's Quizzer'.
The decision has provoked a backlash from some social commentators and others who have condemned the removal of the titles by Dr Seuss Enterprises as 'cancel culture'. a term which refers to the boycotting of a particular person or cultural artifact for being insensitive, inappropriate, or otherwise problematic. Some use the term to describe an unreasonable limitation on freedom of expression



Should drug injecting rooms be established in built-up areas?
(Suitable for VCE Year 2020-2021 English Year 12 students)

On March 25, 2021, the government of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) announced it was considering establishing a medically supervised drug injection room in Canberra. Community consultation will be undertaken before a decision is made.
Two days previously, on March 23, 2021, it was reported that a series of incidents, including the death of a drug-affected man outside a local primary school, had led to parents demanding that the Victorian Government relocate the North Richmond drug injecting centre.
Though the value of drug injecting centres is more generally accepted than when the first was set up in Kings Cross in 2001, the question of where they should be placed and what impact they have on surrounding communities remains hotly debated.



Should sexual consent be compulsorily taught in schools?
(Suitable for VCE Year 2020-2021 English Year 12 students)

On March 21, 2021, the Victorian government announced that consent education is to become compulsory in Victorian state schools and will be taught from Term 2, 2021. On March 9, 2021, the Queensland government announced that independent and state schools would review sexual consent education. On September 25, 2020, the British Parliament enacted regulations that require all primary schools in England to teach 'Relationships Education' and all secondary schools to teach 'Relationships and Sex Education'. Despite the increasing pressure in Australia and overseas to mandate consent education in both primary and secondary schools, there remain critics who doubt schools' capacity to deal with this issue appropriately and who believe that school-based sex education intrudes in an area best dealt with in a family context



Should Australian schools check students' lunchboxes?
(Suitable for VCE Year 2020-2021 English Year 12 students)

On March 3, 2021, The Herald Sun published an article by Susie O'Brien in which she detailed social media complaints from parents objecting to teachers monitoring what goes into school lunchboxes.
O'Brien has drawn attention in the past to what some parents consider unjustified interference by schools in an area they regard as a family responsibility.
In May 2020, concern about the quality of student nutrition prompted three Tasmanian schools to trial free school lunches, while in September 2020, a plan was announced to trial free school lunches in some Canberra public schools.
The question of how best to ensure that Australian schoolchildren receive a nutritious lunch is an ongoing and widely debated one.



Should Australia's COVID19 quarantine centres be located away from major cities?
(Suitable for VCE Year 2020-2021 English Year 12 students)

On February 15, 2021, the Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, announced that the state would build a standalone quarantine facility to accommodate some of those returning to Australia from overseas, suggesting either Melbourne or Avalon airports as possible locations.
In January 2021, the Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, stated her government's continued enthusiasm for the establishment of remote quarantine facilities in her state. The Queensland premier had sought unsuccessfully to promote such a scheme on a national basis to the National Cabinet set up to co-ordinate Australia's response to COVID19. New South Wales expressed no interest and the prime minister, Scott Morrison, declared his lack of support for the proposal.
Despite this the federal government continues to fund and expand the Howard Springs remote quarantine facility, located south east of Darwin in the Northern Territory.
The debate over the viability of regional facilities relative to city-based hotel quarantine has not been resolved.



Should Australia lift the legal smoking age to 21?
(Suitable for VCE Year 2020-2021 English Year 12 students)

On January 11, 2021, it was announced that in March 2021, Independent Tasmanian MLC, Ivan Dean, would bring on the second reading of the Public Health Amendment (Prevention of Sale of Smoking Products to Underage Persons) Bill. If the bill becomes law, Tasmania will become the first Australian state to lift the smoking age to 21.
On January 1, 2021, the legal age in Singapore for the purchase, use, possession, sale, and supply of tobacco products was raised from the previous 20 years to 21 years.
This was the third and last change to the minimum age requirement under the amendments to the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act, which were passed in the Singaporean Parliament in November 2017. The minimum legal age was first raised from 18 to 19 years old on January 1, 2019, and from 19 to 20 years old on January 1, 2020.
These developments follow an increasingly successful Tobacco21 campaign across the United States.


Should children be prevented from playing Australian Rules football?
(Suitable for VCE Year 2020-2021 English Year 12 students)

On January 27, 2021, it was reported that Dr Chris Nowinski, co-founder of the United States-based Concussion Legacy Foundation, had warned against children playing the adult version of Australian Rules football because of the associated health risks.
On January 23, 2021, it was reported that former Richmond footballer Shane Tuck, who committed suicide on July 20, 2020, at the age of 38, had the most severe case the Australian Sports Brain Bank has yet seen of the degenerative brain disease CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), which was also found post-mortem in former players Polly Farmer and Danny Frawley. CTE has been linked to head injuries sustained in contact sports such as Australian Rules football. On September 17, 2020, former AFL player Shaun Smith was awarded a $1.4m insurance payout for 'total and permanent disablement caused by multiple concussions while playing football', in what has been judged a landmark case.
The debate over the safety of Australian Rules football and whether it is a suitable game for children has been developing over the last decade.


Is Australian cricket racist?
(Suitable for VCE Year 2020-2021 English Year 12 students)

On January 9. 2021, on day three of the India vs Australia test match being played on the Sydney Cricket Ground, India captain Ajinkya Rahane and other senior players spoke to the umpires at the end of play. It was subsequently revealed that they were alleging racist abuse from some sections of the crowd.
On January 10, play was stopped for eight minutes following claims of more alleged abuse.
At least six fans were removed from their seats for allegedly making racist comments after Mohammed Siraj ran in from the fine-leg boundary, alerting teammates before umpires passed on the message to security and police.
A subsequent enquiry confirmed that racial abuse had occurred; however, the six spectators who had been escorted from the stadium were not the perpetrators.
The incident has provoked significant discussion regarding the extent of racism in Australian cricket.


Should the United States abolish the death penalty?
(Suitable for VCE Year 2020-2021 English Year 12 students)

On January 16, 2021, the last federal execution authorised by the Trump administration was completed. Over the preceding six months, the United States federal government had executed a further twelve prisoners convicted of capital offences.
It has been noted that this is the highest number of federal executions since 1896 and more than the seven executions conducted in 2020 by all the 28 American states that still apply the death penalty.
On July 25, 2020, the United States Department of Justice announced that the Trump administration would resume capital punishment after 'a nearly two-decade lapse'. Attorney General William Barr stated, 'The Justice Department upholds the rule of law-and we owe it to the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system.
Robert Dunham of the Death Penalty Information Center has explained that opponents of the death penalty have been critical of these executions as 'out of step with the historical practices of previous presidents...[and] out of step with today's state practices' as capital punishment has been in decline across the United States.